Death of retail? Not so fast: Stores find ways to adapt

4,480 stores have closed so far this year

Sep.September 04, 2018 09:30 AM

(Credit: iStock)

While many retailers continue to struggle to compete against the likes of Amazon, others are learning how to adapt.

The pace of store closings has slowed this year, with 4,480 so far compared to nearly 5,700 at the same time in 2017, the New York Times reported. The strongest among the surviving stores are finding ways to meet the demands of a changed consumer.

For example, Target lets buyers place orders from their phones and then pick up the items in the store’s parking lot. It’s also rethinking the size of its stores and customer base, with plans to open 30 stores in cities and near college campuses. “Personal shoppers” at Walmart put together grocery orders and allow buyers to retrieve their items outside the store. Customers returning orders at Nordstrom can drop the items into a box without having to interact with anyone. These three stores reported stronger-than-expected sales growth in the second quarter.

“The retailers that get it recognize that Amazon has forever changed consumer behavior,” Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor and former director of the retailing center at the Wharton School, told the Times. “I shouldn’t have to work to shop.”

Meanwhile, chains like J.C. Penney and Sears continue to struggle, despite closing down failing stores. Other retailers are expanding their footprint: Dollar General plans to open 900 stores this year. Tiffany & Co. has planned a $250 million overhaul of its flagship Fifth Avenue store. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel

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